Here’s The Scoop: Our Top 5 Ice Cream Shops in Pasadena

top 5 ice cream shops in Pasadena

How to choose the top 5 ice cream shops in Pasadena? Although it was a pretty hard job, someone had to do it.

Summer is synonymous with ice cream, beach picnics, lazy days, pool parties, and so many fun activities we seem to save just for summer. Why is that? Why can’t every week feel more like summer? I realize that the weather dictates this thought process, but from a dreamer’s perspective, I vote for summer day activities all year long.

I plan to make more time for leisurely magazine reading, barbecuing, eating lots of fresh fruit, drinking cocktails on a Saturday afternoon and enjoying a little more ice cream!

Read moreHere’s The Scoop: Our Top 5 Ice Cream Shops in Pasadena

A Visit to Verona, Italy Will Amaze & Delight You, I Promise!

visit to Verona
How pretty is Verona, Italy?

A Visit to Verona –  Absolutely!

When you decide to take trip to Italy, cities like Rome, Florence and Venice come to mind immediately, don’t they? However there is a glaring omission from this list under the title of spectacular Italian cities and this charming city is Verona.

I have been to Italy six times and once each of the past three years. This is not to boast but to share that Italy draws you close like a magnet and leaves a lasting impression.I just can’t stay away! My hope is that everyone should visit, at least once many times.

farm fresh artichokes in the market

Some of what I love about Italy

The food is some of the most divine in the world and there is much more to Italian food than pizza and spaghetti. You cannot imagine how different Italian food can taste until you sit down in a small town in the Veneto Region where the artichokes were picked on a farm nearby, the tasty local cheese is organic and the olive oil came from the groves of a local family just minutes away.

I love this about Italy. The Italians are proud of their local regions and the foods that come right from home. They adhere to strict guidelines when creating cheese, olive oil, wine and sparkling wine, as well as many other products. Farmland is precious, family is the most important component of life and Sunday dinner is sacred.

I grew up in an Italian family and our gatherings were epic. Pasta, Italian cold cuts and antipasti salad always accompanied traditional American Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. I have been happy to continue these traditions with my own family as well.

Read moreA Visit to Verona, Italy Will Amaze & Delight You, I Promise!

A Cheese, Glorious Cheese Tour – Italian Cheese is the best!

Italian cheese
Cheese that has been aged in cavernous warehouses and carefully flipped, cleaned and stored in order to age it to perfection was a sight to behold.

Learning about cheese

Is learning about cheese on your bucket list? Maybe not, but let me tell you that once you know the work and craftsmanship that goes into the making of cheese, you may change your mind. I certainly did. I knew that I loved to eat and serve Italian cheese, but truthfully had no idea what it took to make authentic, real Italian cheese.  A trip to the Veneto Region of Northern Italy was the best way to learn! To get all of the delicious details of my entire tour with Oldways please click ==> HERE!

Italian cheese
Walking in the mountain pastures of Northern Italy

 

Cheese glorious cheese!

I must apologize to my lactose intolerant friends, but ooey gooey, tangy, buttery cheese is divine! Pair it with your favorite wine, grate it over pasta, bake a lasagna, melt it for sandwiches, enjoy a quesadilla or just eat a chunk with a piece of fruit. Tasty cheese is big business and nobody does cheese like the Italians!

Italian cheese
Monti Trentini is a family owned business and located at the base of the Dolomites.

Happily touring for cheese

On my recent culinary trip to Italy with Oldways, our traveling group had the pleasure of suiting up and touring a cheese plant with our new friends at Monti Trentini. Located in the Dolomites of Northern Italy, with views of craggy stone mountains in every direction, this AMAZING facility impressed us all.

I had no idea how much thought, effort and skill, mixed with a little Italian love, went in to making cheese. The cleanliness standards are extremely important and every precaution is taken to make sure the plant is germ free. This cheese is raw, not pasteurized and therefore must be aged in order to kill any possible contaminants. We all wore special clothing and fabulous hair nets.

Italian cheese

The milk comes from happy Italian cows that are only fed local, organic grasses, while they breathe fresh mountain air. They always use the freshest milk combined with certain techniques coupled with a strict aging process and this creates the most incredible cheese!

Read moreA Cheese, Glorious Cheese Tour – Italian Cheese is the best!

A Visit to Mount Rushmore: It’s even more spectacular than you imagined

 

Empty Nesters visit Mount Rushmore

A Visit to Mount Rushmore

Tomorrow is our nation’s birthday and besides slicing the watermelon and wearing red, white and blue, I will be thinking of how awestruck we were standing below the Four Presidents of Mount Rushmore, the friendly soldiers we met there and the Thomas Jefferson ice cream. Read on, it’s a great story. 

To find adventure is our personal mantra and therefore our travel plans are eclectic by choice. In just the first six months of 2019, we have been to Maui, Iceland, Seattle, Italy, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming! Pretty cool! But lately my curiosity for exploring more of our nation has intensified. I have visited 40 states thus far, so with ten left to go, traveling in the US is on my mind a great deal.

sunset at Mount Rushmore
Sunset on Mount Rushmore – Nearly 3 million people from all over the world visit and some become citizens here.

Read moreA Visit to Mount Rushmore: It’s even more spectacular than you imagined

A Visit to Bologna – A Delicious & Vibrant Must-See City In Italy!

visit to Bologna
The arched walkways are stunning in Bologna

A Visit to Bologna

This beautiful Italian city is the belly of the nation and the heart of the kitchen. Bologna is a delightful maze of narrow cobblestone streets and the best location to start your visit is in the ancient mercantile center called the Quadrilatero. It’s an easy town to navigate where a popular 11th century university brings students from around the world. We were charmed by the arched covered walkways and the large brick piazzas were filled with happy tourists and locals. Why have I not visited before?

visit to Bologna
Bologna selfie!

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My Custom Made Adventure: A Culinary Tour in Italy

a culinary tour of Italy

A Well Seasoned Culinary Tour in Italy with Oldways

For me, travel should include eating, touring, learning, smiling, tasting, experiencing and a little added relaxation. Would you enjoy a tour to the Veneto Region of Northern Italy which included these satisfying ingredients? Yes, me too! Every detail of my culinary tour in Italy with Oldways was executed to perfection and I often wondered if it was custom made just for me.

Now I know this isn’t true, but the itinerary sure checked the boxes of my list of favorites. This trip to Italy focused on authentic dishes and included traveling with Chefs and Co-owners Michael Lombardi and Kevin O’Donnell from a traditional Venetian restaurant in Boston called SRV. Additionally, the creativity of the excursions and inventive itinerary were beyond anything I could envision. Imagine seeing a tour through the eyes of chef? How unique is that? It seems that every passion, every interest that I hold dear about cooking and travel, I share with Oldways

a culinary tour of Italy
Enjoying lunch on the Grand Canal in Venice with my tourmates

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Sensational Iceland: The Making of a Travel Video

 

making a travel video

A travel video – Our tour in Iceland

Craig and I are a small part of the making of a travel video of epic proportions. Nature in Iceland is so BIG, so incredible that it could be a challenge to capture it. However the professionals from Colette Travel that we worked with, brought their A game. Both Dan and Drew manage to capture the essence of the landscape as well as the sheer magnitude of our surroundings. Any traveler will jump at the chance to travel to Iceland after watching this!

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The Terrific Benefits of Seeking a Travel Blog for Advice

seeking a travel blog for advice

Seeking a Travel Blog for Advice

I think this subject may be divided into two camps; those that understand the value of a travel blogger and those that don’t. I of course fall into the former. Let’s discuss.

 

How can a travel blog help you?

Today, everyone really does their homework, whether it is for a major purchase, a minor purchase or to plan their next vacation. Vacations are expensive and often travelers may only take one trip per year or on a rare occasion and really don’t want to make a mistake.

Here’s where the travel blogger can help. Are you traveling in the Midwest? The South? On a European vacation? A river cruise? Somewhere fabulous and tropical? How about the Southwest? France? Are you planning a scuba diving excursion? I know a travel blogger that has been to and is an expert in each of those possible destinations. I could give you many more examples, but this will get you started. When you plan a trip, go to Google, and type the destination for where you want to go.

You can type for example: Best things to do in MauiWhat is the best time of year to visit Napa Valley? What should I do in Los Angeles? You get the idea. Google will offer up different websites and you are off to the races. (I have written a post about each of those topics). Most often Google will take you directly to the post, if not, when you get to the travel blog, use the SEARCH BOX and type in what you are looking for. Whether it is a city, state or country, if the blogger has been there, the post will pop up.

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A Restaurant Called Hippo in Highland Park – Curious Name, Delicious Food!

 

a restaurant called Hippo in Highland Park

Hippo in Highland Park

Wow! We finally had a moment to visit a restaurant called Hippo in Highland Park. Highland Park is a small, but mighty foodie town just outside of Los Angeles and it is experiencing quite an exciting renaissance. Buildings are being renovated and inventive delicious restaurants are popping up very frequently. We live only a few miles east and are so fortunate to have easy access to this incredible restaurant!

What’s in a name

Why is it called Hippo? This dining treasure is in a very large building that used to be the Highland Park Post Office. Hippo is a loose and clever interpretation of the initials HPPO.

Who created Hippo?

Hippo is the creation of Chef Matt Molina who was the Chef de Cuisine at Osteria Mozza in Los Angeles where under the mentorship of the incredible Nancy Silverton, he won a James Beard Award in 2012.

Additionally, prior to opening Hippo, he started Triple Beam Pizza. TBP sits in the front of this enormous warehouse-like building and shares the space with Hippo. The delicious pizza is sold by the slice and you tell them how long your piece should be! It’s like measuring fabric at Cloth World. So fun!! The pizza is fantastic too!

Read moreA Restaurant Called Hippo in Highland Park – Curious Name, Delicious Food!

Pinch Me – A Delicious Culinary Tour in Italy

A Culinary Tour in Italy

I am off to Italy once again. I would continue to pinch myself, but I am beginning to bruise! Two years ago my Italian adventures began with a week-long Italian cooking immersion adventure in the hills of Tuscany, as a guest of Tuscan Women Cook.

Italian cooking school
What a special day! It was hard not spending my birthday with my family, however, my friends in Tuscany gave me the royal treatment.

 

I toured, ate ridiculously amazing food and drank Tuscan wines with delightful people. We strolled through small towns visiting cheese makers, wineries and I even spent my birthday with these new friends. Because of the relationships I made on this trip, I met Cristina, a fantastic local tour guide and she introduced me to Palio Tours. Palio Tours put together my husband’s dream trip; to see The Palio for the following summer.

Read morePinch Me – A Delicious Culinary Tour in Italy